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Cairns is a hot, hot place. Even though it’s just entering the dry season, a more comfortable time, from the wet, it’s still in a tropical zone, and a good ten degrees (Fahrenheit) warmer than anything I’ve experienced since really, last August. Summer, two months early. I’ve taken to changing my clothes a few times a day, and stripping off my shirt as soon as I enter my thankfully air conditioned dorm room. As I write this, the machine is spewing cool air directly at the back of my neck. Honestly one of the best feelings ever in the context of the last five days, and the only time I’ve ever enjoyed being dealt the top bunk in a dormitory.
I went shirtless a lot on the dive boat too, mainly because there was little enough time between dives that I didn’t want to contaminate my clothing with my salt coated body. The trip was a lot of fun, although I was seasick for most of my time on the boat, unfortunately. I think it might have been mainly something in the seawater that I would inadvertedly swallow every dive; I actually threw up just before my fourth dive, on the second day, and immediately felt fine. The motion of the boat certainly didn’t help, though. We encountered choppy seas more often than not. But overall, the experience was a complete success. I took a lot of pictures with the underwater camera I rented and I am now a certified diver to 18 meters anywhere in the world. Definitely opems up a new front as far as travel is concerned, although dive trips are quite expensive so I guess we will see how that factors into future stops. Plus. I have to undergo further training if I want to dive into sunken ruins, which is an idea the classics major in me is absolutely in love with. Diving for Dwaraka springs to mind in particular.
The last couple nights at the hostel were among the best I have experienced in my travels so far, certainly the most companionable. I’d been on good terms with the kids in my dormitory the night before I left. There’s Josh, from Germany, Matt, from England, and Wayne, from Scotland. When I vacated for the night I spent on the boat, Christian, also from Germany, took my old bed, and I was put into another dorm when I came back. The five of us have been hanging out a lot since then. The night before I went diving, we drank a little with some other kids in the hostel. I proved my mettle by riding the bus, but a short while. On the night I returned, five of us hung with three fun and absolutely adorable Swedish girls who left early the next morning. We drank Coonwarra, or Goon for short, an inexpensive boxed wine. Not the tastiest, but I can deal (and miles above Franzia, for sure.) It’s nice to have made some friends during my time here, and I will probably meet up with the Germans when I go to their country later this summer! And Wayne and Matt, when I pass through Britain.
Josh left yesterday afternoon, so we cooked a nice lunch as a sendoff. Christian had been talking about how delicious kangaroo meat is since the previous night and hey, we’re in Australia, right? So we bought some kangaroo steaks, and Josh prepared some baby potatoes to go along with it. On a whim, we also bought some chicken schnitzel which we cooked for lunch today, along with the remaining potatoes in the bag. That’s two hearty lunches for seven bucks apiece. Not bad, and yet another perk of traveling with people. After dinner, Wayne and I went to a chocolate buffet at a posh hotel that another diver had told me about. It was twenty five dollars, but also a chocolate buffet. Totally worth it.
I am now back in the city and preparing for my departure in just three days. I’m very excited to see everyone! First stop is Tufts, since I’ll be in Boston anyway. Spend the weekend there, and then head up to Manchester to meet my family and sister for her birthday. After that, it’s a whirlwind three weeks of visitations and preparation before flying out again at the end of May.
But actually. Like the last thirty pages of my novel have been written with some kind of drink at hand. I think it’s probably because I get in the zone before the alcohol hits, and then it just keeps me concentrated. As opposed to the various times last semester I came back to my room on a Saturday night and tried to apply myself vigorously to Kierkegaard. I guess it doesn’t work the opposite way around.
I’m at an interesting place in the novel right now. I don’t think I’ve ever explicitly said this here, so I will now. The way I’ve been writing this for a long time is piecemeal; whenever I imagine a good scene from the narrative, I write it out. The story’s divided into four or five broad sections in my head. I’ve finished one large piece of the first that sets up a lot of the future narrative, which I am super pumped about because I now have something vaguely canonical to which I can refer back as I write more. I’m temporarily skipping over the section I have planned for after that because I’m not too sure how to write it yet. In particular, it’s the first section that deals with a more philosophical/mystical aspect of the story. I’ve written similar stuff for the other sections, but I would like this part to tie in somehow. But I’m not sure how yet. Usually if I let something sit in my head for a few days, it yields something. So I am just going to wait. Really, I have the rest of my life for this.
Had a great two days with Daniel, my friend in Tasmania. He was very organized about the whole sightseeing thing. When I first told him I was coming, he sent me a long list of things I could do in all the places he wasn’t. When I finally did meet up with him on Friday, he showed me around his home area of Burnie, on the northwest coast and about two hours from Launceston, in great detail. It was an excellent time overall.
I found an excellent book today while Daniel showed me around Launceston, an atlas of the Biblical world. I bought it after realizing it was only forty dollars; I expected something like that to cost at least twice as much! I’m hoping it will fit in my suitcase. On the other hand, I prepaid for 25 kg of checked baggage and later found out I only had about 21, so I guess I am putting the extra space to good use. I have one more day in Launceston; my flight leaves late tomorrow night. I’m signed up for a tour and beer and cheese tasting at the James Boag brewery here in the city tomorrow afternoon, and I’m pretty excited. I opted for the longer tour because I felt like it could give some good insight into the brewing process. Our last batch back home turned out a bit funny (okay, more than a bit: it didn’t ferment and tastes like ass) which was a bit surprising since the previous two or three batches worked out fine. So hopefully, I can figure out what happened. The tasting should be a good midday meal as well. I have a favorable view of Tasmanian alcohol so far: the ciders have been excellent and the single-malts scrumptious. They have peat bogs in Tasmania, so some of them are quite scotchlike.
Earlier today, I was thinking about ideals, and how they evolve over time. As I’ve grown up, I thought, ideal after ideal has sprung up in my life, to which I attempt to force reality to cleave, with mixed results. My latest set of ideals have fallen, one by one, and haven’t been replaced, so maybe this means growing up is just letting go of idealistic constructs of what the world should be. This seemed needlessly pessimistic, I thought then. I certainly don’t want a life devoid of ideals. Maybe then, ideals fall for the last time after we step into adulthood, and life is (or should be) just the effort to claw our way back to the top? Just now, while typing this, I am reminded of something my friend Adam wrote on a forum we share with our friends. I won’t quote him directly here because I haven’t asked his permission, but he said something remarkably similar to whay I’ve written above, of the creation that springs forth from a dichotomy. Food for thought.
(I also just read through a 35 page Dashboard backlog because I haven’t had unlimited Internet for two days. I am too shocked at myself to be shocked at myself. O_O)